March 6, 2020
Last week you received a notification regarding potential impacts on ACC of the coronavirus (COVID-19). If you missed that notification, you can find the information on ACC’s Coronavirus website at www.austincc.edu/coronavirus.
As noted on that site, “Currently, there are no known cases or patients among ACC students, faculty, and staff or in the Austin/Travis County area. Health officials highly recommend that students, as well as faculty, staff, and the general public, continue to practice preventive actions. The best prevention is diligent handwashing for a minimum of 20 seconds. Please see the Coronavirus prevention guide, attached.
If you have had recent travel within the last 14 days from affected regions and are experiencing symptoms or who have been in close contact with those who are ill and recently traveled to affected regions, we advise you to contact your regular health care provider. If you need medical care but do not have insurance or funds, see this list of low-cost community health care providers.
We continue to receive questions about whether ACC plans to close because of the coronavirus. At this time, ACC does not anticipate closing the College, and existing policies regarding attendance and participation remain in effect. Any decisions that may need to be made regarding changes to College operations, including closure of the College or specific campuses, will be done in coordination with appropriate state and local health officials. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently state (as of March 5, 2020) “For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.” However, they also state “This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment will be updated as needed.”
Because this situation continues to evolve, the College's response will also evolve. In the unlikely event that we do need to close the College or any campuses prior to the end of the semester, we are preparing on how best to deliver services and instruction without losing any course material.
If your course is currently taught in a classroom, it would transition into an online environment (for example, Blackboard). Your instructor will use this platform to share announcements, upload assignments, create discussion boards, or share grades. We know that not all lab classes can be translated to the virtual classroom. However, for some labs, there are virtual tools that could be used. Our academic leadership is exploring these options.
It is important to stay in touch with your professor to determine what the next steps could be with your course. To familiarize yourself with Blackboard, you can watch tutorials here.
For remote office hours or group sessions, your instructor may invite you to meet via Blackboard Collaborate, WebEx, Google Hangouts, or Google Meet.
If the College is entirely closed, then testing centers would not be available. We recommend that you become familiar with BlackBoard Respondus or BlackBoard Monitor, as well as Proctor U. If the College closes, ACC will pay your Proctor U student fee during the time ACC is closed. Your instructor will share testing details with you if necessary.
To ensure your needs are met, we will increase the availability of online services for students. Currently, students can already access free online tutoring; online advising; online library services; and online support for financial aid, admissions and records, veterans affairs, and general ACC questions through the Student Affairs Help Desk. Also, we understand research is a large component of your classes. Many library services are available online -- including 24/7 chat assistance with a librarian, eBooks, and online journal databases.
We do not expect to close the College or any campuses. However, as noted earlier, the situation is evolving, and we would like to help you be as prepared as possible. We will provide updates as needed, so please watch for those. If you have a specific question at this time, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions and responses will be posted on the ACC coronavirus website, as appropriate.
Dr. Shasta Buchanan
Vice President - Student Affairs